KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In almost every corner of the locker room, the Chiefs were in denial. The Miami Dolphins had their attention all week, they insisted, and by Sunday, the Chiefs were ready to play.
Their performance, not to mention coach Todd Haley, acknowledged otherwise. They had their four-game winning streak ended in a surprising way with a 31-3 loss to the previously winless Dolphins at Arrowhead Stadium.
Except in a way, it wasn't surprising at all. The Chiefs had spent plenty of energy overcoming their 0-3 start and if the emotional tank was ever going to be less than full, Miami week was a prime suspect.
The Chiefs had come off a hard-fought, emotional win on Monday night against San Diego and had a short week to prepare for an 0-7 opponent, one it was easy to overlook.
"It was a short week but we knew who the Dolphins were,'' linebacker Andy Studebaker said. "We knew they had a lot of playmakers and those playmakers made some plays. Other than it being a short week and having a little bit less preparation time, it's football.
"You can't want to play on Monday night one week and love it and be all about Monday night football and then not be OK with a short week.''
But Haley said he could tell early in the game Kansas City's effort wouldn't be what he hoped.
"It was clear to me as the game went on that we had a bunch of guys that didn't have much in the tank,'' Haley said.
To compensate for the short week of preparation, Haley had the Chiefs practice just twice rather than the usual three days. Still, he indicated he believed he pushed too hard.
" (I) really tried to work hard to make sure we were handling the week correctly, physically and mentally,'' Haley said. "I'm not making excuses for the guys, but we probably did try to do too much during the week (when) they just weren't physically capable of handling it.''
Specifically, the Chiefs appeared unprepared for a Miami pass rush that kept quarterback Matt Cassel under constant pressure. He was sacked five times and had to run from trouble on several other plays.
The Chiefs also couldn't stop Miami's journeyman backup quarterback, Matt Moore. Playing only after a season-ending injury to the normal starter, Chad Henne, Moore played the game of his life, throwing for 244 yards and three touchdowns.
The Chiefs had eight interceptions in their previous two games but couldn't force Moore into a mistake.
"Miami had my attention,'' fullback Le'Ron McClain said. "I approached the week the same way, watched film the same way. I came here thinking the same way when I stepped on the field. I'm sure that was everybody's mindset.
"We just as a team didn't come out with the same power and energy we had the past four weeks. It showed.''
Linebacker Derrick Johnson was a prime example of a Chiefs player whose game didn't match up to those from previous weeks. Johnson had 16 tackles in each of the last two games against Oakland and San Diego.
He was involved in just five tackles against Miami.
"I'm not an excuse guy so I wouldn't say this was from playing on Monday night,'' Johnson said. "You've got to be a pro. Whatever you've got to do to get yourself ready, you've got to do it.
"I felt like we were focused and ready. We've been through this type of loss before. We'll bounce back. We'll fight hard next week and we'll do a lot better.''
Even if the Chiefs beat the Broncos next week, it will be hard for them to get back what they lost against Miami. They have a difficult upcoming schedule that includes games against the Patriots, Steelers, Bears, Jets and Packers, so they needed to beat one of the weaklings in their way.
They missed that chance Sunday.
"We came off an emotional week, a big win last week and we wanted to capitalize on that and keep building on that,'' Studebaker said. "We took a little step backward.''
Total Net Yards351343
Interceptions Ret. 0-00-0
Time of Possession25:2134:39
Miami7 7 14 3—31 Kansas City 3 0 0 0—o 3
KC—FG Succop 43, 7:11.
Mia—Fasano 3 pass from Mat.Moore (Carpenter kick), :46.
Mia—Fasano 35 pass from Mat.Moore (Carpenter kick), 9:41.
Mia—Marshall 14 pass from Mat.Moore (Carpenter kick), 8:38.
Mia—Bush 28 run (Carpenter kick), 6:41.
Mia—FG Carpenter 42, 8:08.
Rushing—Miami, Bush 13-92, Thomas 7-12, Mat.Moore 4-3. Kansas City, Battle 14-40, Cassel 9-38, McCluster 7-36, Jones 3-5, Colquitt 1-(minus 3).
Passing—Miami, Mat.Moore 17-23-0-244. Kansas City, Cassel 20-39-0-253.
Receiving—Miami, Marshall 8-106, Bush 3-50, Clay 3-50, Fasano 2-38, Bess 1-0. Kansas City, Breaston 7-115, Bowe 6-88, Baldwin 1-12, Battle 1-9, Pope 1-9, McCluster 1-8, Colbert 1-5, McClain 1-4, O'Connell 1-3.
Missed Field Goals—None.